Safed Medical School 311.
(photo credit: Meshoolam Levy)
Increasingly starved for young doctors, the country welcomed on Sunday the
opening, in Safed, of its fifth medical school and the first in nearly four
decades – the Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee.
It not only brings 124
students to the city but also promises to stimulate Safed’s development and
raise the quality of medical care in the North.
To mark the occasion,
Prime Minister (and formally health minister) Binyamin Netanyahu convened the
whole cabinet at the site of the temporary medical faculty campus and greeted
President Shimon Peres, who in the past, as minister for the development of the
Negev and Galilee, pushed for the opening of such an institution.
successor, Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, also attended, as did Safed
Mayor Ilan Shochat and Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, chairman of the Council
for Higher Education’s Planning and Budgeting Committee.
The new medical
students increased by 18 percent the number of medical students in the country.
Most of the lecturers have committed themselves to living in the
“You young people have chosen ‘brain gain’ as opposed to ‘brain
drain,’” said Peres. “By coming here you have eagerly embraced the noble Zionist
ideal of developing the northern part of our country. This is the beginning of
unprecedented growth in the Galilee region.
When the faculty is
completed, it will change the face of the State of Israel.”
that just as Ben- Gurion University and its affiliated institutions transformed
Beersheba and the Negev, he was sure that the medical school would do the same
for Safed and the Galilee.
“Medicine is the soul of the Jewish people.
Israel excels in developing medications and medical equipment and giving
advanced medical treatment.
Medicine is an excellent model for peace and
coexistence between the Jews and the Arabs, he said.
Netanyahu said his
government had allocated tens of millions of shekels to establish the
“The Bar-Ilan Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee is the only one
in Israel that allows those who began their studies abroad to return home to
complete them,” he said.
The prime minister praised BIU and the Safed
Municipality for cutting through bureaucratic red tape to complete this project
in time for the opening of the 2011/12 academic year.
University, whose president is Prof. Moshe Kaveh, is the sponsor of the faculty,
and the dean is Prof. Ran Tur-Kaspa, a worldrenowned expert in hepatitis
viruses and liver disease and the head of Internal Medicine D at the Rabin
Medical Center-Beilinson Campus.
He said he was excited to open the
faculty’s first year of studies, which is “a golden opportunity” to create
original thinking and new ways of teaching medicine.
“The unique and
innovative curriculum is modeled on that of leading American institutions, such
as Harvard Medical School, featuring an integrative teaching approach, one that
links core science and clinical studies while imparting to students an
orientation toward health promotion and disease prevention,” he
Kaveh, who raised considerable money for the faculty, said it
expects to grow to 1,000 students within seven years, by which time it will move
to its permanent quarters overlooking Lake Kinneret.
quartet of UJIA, UIA Canada, Russell Berrie Foundation and Rashi Foundation
joined forces to fund the first building of the Bar-Ilan Faculty of Medicine, in
order to ensure its opening on time.
In describing its future emphasis on
research as well as on clinical study, Kaveh announced that it will establish a
research center for the study of autism, the first of its kind in the
The student body in the temporary campus includes Jews and Arabs
returning from abroad, including from prestigious institutions such as Harvard,
Yale and Stanford universities.
“Finally, we will see traffic jams in
Safed, and not just because of the annual Klezmer Festival,” quipped Shochat.
“The city of Safed and the entire surrounding area will reap the benefits of
this new faculty.”